Friday, December 3, 2021
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Kansas City schools deal with wave of racist language

Kansas City is in an uproar after an image of a racist homecoming sign held by an Olathe South and St. James students has been circulating online.

The photo shows a student-made sign asking someone to Olathe South’s homecoming, which reads, “If I were Black, I’d be picking cotton but I’m white so I’m picking you for HOCO?”

Olathe Public Schools is investigating the matter, and interviewing the students and families involved.  

“At Olathe South and in the Olathe Public Schools, we are committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment for ALL our students,” said Dale Longenecker, principal of Olathe South High, in a public statement to families. “The type of behavior displayed in the social media post does not meet the expectations of our core values.”

St. James, a private Catholic high school, responded to the post the following weekend. Their statement urged families to have a conversation with their children about racism.

This is not the only recent incident of racist actions in area schools over the last few weeks. 

Last month, a student-led petition to bring back slavery circulated throughout the halls of Park Hill South High School in Riverside, MO. Officials from Park Hill South told the media they are investigating the petition after an influx of upset parents. 

The onslaught of racial issues in Missouri schools continued with the most recent development of a racial slur being directed towards a young boy in Blue Springs. 

Lekeisha Veal claimed her son Jeremiah, a student at Moreland Ridge Middle School, was the target of racist remarks in class.

“A student yelled from across the room, ‘Is that cotton?’ referring to Jeremiah,” Veal said in an interview with KMBC.

Veal said the administration at Moreland Ridge apologized and disciplinary actions are underway. According to Veal, the student will get three days of in-school suspension. She claims this punishment is not sufficient.

UMKC education professor emerita Etta Hollins said that schools facing racist incidents must examine what behaviors are being modeled by educators and evaluate the curriculum being taught. 

“The behaviors these students publicly displayed at a school event reveal as much about the curriculum in school as about the socialization in their homes and communities,” Hollins said, who also serves on the advisory board for the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. 

Racial discrimination in the classroom is illegal. Parents of students who experience racial discrimination can file a complaint with their school district or the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights

zwzpgq@umsystem.edu

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